Hancock, MD — Police Chief T.J. Buskirk recently resigned from the Hancock police department after 16 years and will be taking a new job at a very unlikely place. The former chief will be taking a job with Harvest of Maryland LLC, a marijuana firm that will be breaking ground in his town very soon. Buskirk is quitting the police force to work for a company that grows pot — a plant that has lands tens of thousands of Maryland residents behind bars each year.
Buskirk said that this is a good business decision that will be good for him and his family. He will be taking a position as director of security and safety for the company.
“It's a good career move,” he said.
“It was tough. It was tough printing it off. … I can't say enough things about this wonderful town,” Buskirk said during his resignation meeting at the Hancock Town Council on Wednesday night.
Mayor Ralph Salvagno responded to the resignation, saying that “We're very grateful for your service and for the fact that you will not be far away.”
Buskirk will be one of 124 new workers who will now be employed by Harvest of Maryland, and the company predicts to be paying $4.5 million into the community in payroll each year.
Medical marijuana laws have moved slowly in Maryland, with many dispensaries waiting for approval, but Buskirk is ready to get in on the ground floor — likely after watching how lucrative the industry has been in other markets.
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According to the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association, the state sold over $11 million dollars worth of marijuana in the first week of legalization. The sales in Oregon on the first week actually outshined both Colorado and Washington state where the plant was legalized just a few years ago.
Ironically enough, if Buskirk attempted to do a job like this across state lines, he would be putting himself on the wrong side of the law and risking arrest. Meanwhile, people are getting arrested for marijuana every single day, even in the state of Maryland where Buskirk plans to be working.
The laws regarding marijuana may be improving, but things are far from perfect and many people are still suffering from the laws that are still on the books. Even in the state of Maryland, only 15 cultivation licenses will be issued, which means anyone else who attempts to grow marijuana will be arrested, despite the changing laws in the state.
Luckily, Buskirk is an example of changing attitudes in law enforcement.
This may sound strange, but large numbers of police officers have been speaking out against prohibition in recent years.
Surprisingly, there is a significant number of police officers in the US who are working to end prohibition because they have recognized that it does not work and that it causes numerous other problems in society, namely crime and gang violence.
One of the leading groups of law enforcers working to end the drug war is LEAP or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. According to their official website, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an international 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies.
Sadly, however, there are still many police who see financial benefits from the war on drugs, and many more who have refused to look past the propaganda.